New service for people with excess iron
Free treatment to be provided for people with hereditary haemochromatosis
The treatment is to remove iron from the body, usually by taking pints of blood from the affected person on a regular basis, in a process known as phlebotomy or venesection. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times
A new, free service for people with hereditary haemochromatosis is to be provided by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service.
Haemochromatosis is a condition where the body absorbs too much iron from food into the blood. The excess iron can build up over years and can lead to debilitating and even life-threatening complications including cirrhosis, diabetes and heart failure. Hereditary haemochromatosis is common in Ireland.
The treatment is to remove iron from the body, usually by taking pints of blood from the affected person on a regular basis, in a process known as phlebotomy or venesection. The new service to be provided by the IBTS on an appointment-only basis, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursday, between 10 am and noon. It is a pilot project, to run for two years, and will be available in Dublin immediately, Cork later in the year and will soon be extended to other locations in the State.
Dr Ian Franklin, medical and scientific director with the IBTS, said many people with haemochromatosis were fit and well able to be blood donors, though people did not have to donate their blood to avail of the service. He said anyone wishing to use this service must get a prescription from their GP or hospital clinic, on an IBTS form which can be downloaded at www.giveblood.ie. The prescription is good for one year and for up to four phlebotomies within that period. There will be no charge for the service.
Among the criteria a person must fulfil to avail of the service are that the person must have a definite diagnosis of hereditary haemochromatosis, be over 18, be fit enough to have the treatment outside a hospital clinic, have the prescription written on official IBTS prescription form, never have tested positive for HIV, hepatitis C or B, not be an intravenous drug user and not be a current sex worker.
More information on the service available at www.giveblood.ie